The Importance Of Scripture


n October 6, in the year 1536, a pitiful figure was led from a dungeon in Vilvorde Castle near Brussels, Belgium. For nearly a year and a half, the man had suffered isolation in a dark, damp cell. Now outside the castle wall, the prisoner was fastened to a post. He had time to utter aloud his final prayer, “Lord! open the King of England’s eyes,” and then he was strangled. Immediately, and his body was burned at the stake.

Who was this man, and what was the offense for which both political and ecclesiastical authorities had condemned him to death? His name was William Tyndale, and his crime was to have translated and published the Bible in English.

Tyndale, born in England about the time Columbus sailed to the New World, was educated at Oxford and Cambridge and then became a member of the Catholic clergy. He was fluent in eight languages including Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Tyndale was a devoted student of the Bible, and the pervasive ignorance of the Scriptures that he observed in both priests and lay people troubled him deeply.

In a heated exchange with a cleric who argued against putting scripture in the hands of the common man, Tyndale vowed, “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost!” He sought the approval of church authorities to prepare a translation of the Bible in English so that all could read and apply the Word of God. It was denied—the prevailing view being that direct access to the Scriptures by any but the clergy threatened the authority of the church and was tantamount to casting “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6).

Tyndale nevertheless undertook the challenging work of translation. In 1524 he traveled to Germany, under an assumed name, where he lived much of the time in hiding, under constant threat of arrest. With the help of committed friends, Tyndale was able to publish English translations of the New Testament and later the Old Testament. The Bibles were smuggled into England, where they were in great demand and much prized by those who could get them. They were shared widely but in secret. The authorities burned all the copies they could find. Nevertheless, within three years of Tyndale’s death, God did indeed open King Henry VIII’s eyes, and with publication of what was called the “Great Bible,” the Scriptures in English began to be publicly available.

Tyndale’s work became the foundation for almost all future English translations of the Bible, most notably the King James Version. William Tyndale was not the first, nor the last, of those who in many countries and languages have sacrificed, even to the point of death, to bring the Word of God out of obscurity. We owe them all a great debt of gratitude. We owe perhaps an even greater debt to those who faithfully recorded and preserved the word through the ages, often with painstaking labor and sacrifice: Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, John, Paul and many others.

What did they know about the importance of scriptures that we also need to know? What did people in 16th-Century England, who paid enormous sums and ran grave personal risks for access to a Bible, understand that we should also understand?

Through the scriptures, God does indeed “show forth his power” to save and exalt His children. By His Word He enlarges our memory, sheds light on falsehood and error to and bring us to repentance and to rejoice in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

The Scriptures Enlarge Our Memory

The Scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us always to remember the Lord and our relationship to Him and the Father. They remind us of what we knew in our premortal life. And they expand our memory in another sense by teaching us about epochs, people, and events that we did not experience personally.

None of us was present to see the Red Sea parted or cross with Moses between walls of water to the other side. We were not present to hear the Sermon on the Mount, see Lazarus raised from the dead, the suffering Savior in Gethsemane and on the cross; and we did not, with Mary, hear the two angels testify at the empty tomb that Jesus was risen from the dead.

In Tyndale’s day, scriptural ignorance abounded because people lacked access to the Bible, especially in a language they could understand. Today the Bible and other scripture are readily at hand, yet there is a growing scriptural illiteracy because people will not open the books. Consequently they have forgotten things their grandparents knew.

The Scriptures Are the Standard To Distinguishing Truth & Error

God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects. He is a tender parent who would spare us needless suffering and grief and at the same time help us realize our divine potential. The scriptures, for example, discredit an ancient philosophy that has come back into vogue in our day—the philosophy that there are no absolute moral standards, that every man prosper according to his genius, and that every man conquer according to his strength; and whatsoever a man does is no crime and that when a man is dead, that is the end of him thereof.

Many today would dispute the seriousness of immorality. Others would argue that it’s all relative or that God’s love is permissive. If there is a God, they say, He excuses all sins and misdeeds because of His love for us—there is no need for repentance. Or at most, a simple confession will do. They have imagined a Jesus who wants people to work for social justice but who makes no demands upon their personal life and behavior.

However, a God of love does not leave us alone to learn by sad experience that wickedness never was happiness. His commandments are the voice of reality and our protection against self-inflicted pain. The Scriptures are the touchstone for measuring correctness and truth, and they are clear that real happiness lies not in denying the justice of God or trying to circumvent the consequences of sin but in repentance and forgiveness through the atoning grace of the Son of God.

Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity. In scripture, we find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles, as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them. Where scriptural truths are ignored or abandoned, the essential moral core of society disintegrates and decay is close behind. In time, nothing is left to sustain the institutions that sustain society.

The Scriptures Draw Us to Christ, Our Redeemer

In the final analysis, the central purpose of all Scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ—faith that They exist; faith in the Father’s plan for our immortality and eternal life; faith in the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which animates this plan of happiness; faith to make the gospel of Jesus Christ our way of life; and faith to come to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent” (John 17:3).

The word of God is like a seed planted in our hearts that produces faith as it begins to grow within us (see Romans 10:13–17). Faith will not come from the study of ancient texts as a purely academic pursuit. It will not come from archaeological digs and discoveries. It will not come from scientific experiments. It will not even come from witnessing miracles. These things may serve to confirm faith, or at times to challenge it, but they do not create faith itself.

Faith comes by the witness of the Holy Spirit to our souls, Spirit to spirit, as we hear or read the word of God. And faith matures as we continue to feast upon the word. Scriptural accounts of the faith of others serve to strengthen our own.

We recall the faith of a centurion that enabled Christ to heal his servant without so much as seeing him (Matthew 8:5–13) and the healing of a Gentile woman’s daughter because that humble mother would accept, as it were, even the crumbs from the Master’s table (Matthew 15:22–28; Mark 7:25–30). We hear the cry of suffering Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15)—and professing, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: … [and] yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25–26). We hear and take courage from this because they expound the doctrine of Christ.

The Scriptures are accompanied by the Holy Spirit, whose role it is to bear witness, (2 Peter 1:21), and that same Spirit can attest its truth to you and me.

Study the scriptures carefully, deliberately. Ponder and pray over them. Scriptures are revelation, and they will bring added revelation. Consider the magnitude of our blessing to have the Holy Bible. Every man, woman, and child may possess and study his or her own personal copy of the sacred texts, most in his or her own language. How incredible such a thing would have seemed to the people of William Tyndale’s day and to the Saints of earlier dispensations! Surely with this blessing the Lord is telling us that our need for constant recourse to the Scriptures is greater than in any previous time. May we feast continuously on the words of Christ that will tell us all things we should do.

I have studied the Scriptures, I have pondered the scriptures, I bear you my testimony of the Father and the Son, as They are revealed in the holy Scriptures, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.✪

⭐️ RailBoss